Pro-choice activists stand outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization Inc., Mississippi’s only remaining commercial abortion clinic. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Feminists got two great pieces of news on the violence against women front this week. First, the Violence Against Women Act was passed—and not the watered-down Republican one either! This version of VAWA contained protections for the LGBT community and allows Native American courts to prosecute non-Native perpetrators on tribal land.
Then we learned that Girls Gone Wild—the exploitative porn empire that targets young intoxicated women—filed for bankruptcy. As I said on Twitter, I’m pretty sure a feminist angel got her wings as proprietor Joe Francis signed on the dotted line.
But in the same week we got this great news, a rape survivor at the University of North Carolina was threatened with expulsion for “intimidating” her rapist by becoming an anti-rape activist, there was another attack on Planned Parenthood, a Kansas bill moved forward that would allow doctors to lie to pregnant women in an effort to prevent them for getting abortions and a 9-year-old girl of color—a child—was called a “c*nt.” One step forward, twenty steps back.
It reminds me of a question I get asked a lot when I speak to younger feminists: How do you continue to do this work when it’s just so depressing?
Every day, there’s another piece of bad news. A lawmaker says something egregious about rape. A sexist law passes. A movie or television show or viral video promotes an awful stereotype about women and sexuality. That doesn’t even get into the outrageous number of women across the United States who will be sexually assaulted or had violence done to them by their partners. (And that’s just in this country!)
On top of dealing with the sheer awfulness of the way misogyny operates in the world, those of us who do feminist work—from writers and nonprofit workers to everyday activists—have to deal with the people around us insisting that we’re imagining the whole thing! Lindy West at Jezebel calls it “sexism fatigue”: